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This year, the women’s freestyle final was marked by some impressive feats. One of the most notable ones being that of 16-year old Canadian Penny Oleksiak who already made quite an reputation for herself as a swimming prodigy. In the 100m freestyle final, Oleksiak tied with American swimmer, Simone Manuel to take home the gold. She also managed to set a new record in the process. Oleksiak also became the first athlete born in the 21st century to win Olympic gold in any sport.
Oleksiak has cemented her status as being one of Canada’s best female athletes, placing her right alongside Hayley Wickenheiser who has been represented Canada in the past five Olympics, along with Canadian diver, Jennifer Abel who is the youngest diver to compete in the Olympics.
But the performance of Oleksiak is still poised to overshadow the two other amazing Olympians from Canada, because it is the first major win for Canada in swimming since Mark Tewksbury won gold nearly 24 years ago. Dave Ling, a coach who has worked in the past with Oleksiak told reporters that the young swimmer had begun to swim the 100 fly only a year and a half ago. This only goes to show the commitment of Oleksiak, who has since included a silver for the 100m butterfly as well as two bronze medals for the 4x100m and 4x200m freestyle relays at the 2016 Rio Olympics. According to Ling, the word “prodigy” suits Oleksiak perfectly since that’s exactly what the young swimmer is. And it seems that greatness runs in the family. Oleksiak’s elder brother Jamie Oleksiak is a professional NHL hockey player who plays for the Dallas Stars. Oleksiak also has a sister who rows for Northeastern University. Oleksiak has been breaking swimming records since the tender age of 12 in Canada and we expect to see a lot of her in the coming years for sure.